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Oracles of Delphi Keep    by Victoria Laurie order for
Oracles of Delphi Keep
by Victoria Laurie
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Victoria Laurie's Oracles of Delphi Keep opens a magical new series set (primarily) in England between the two World Wars. Ian Wigby has been raised in an orphanage situated in a castle above the White Cliffs of Dover (the castle provided through the patronage of the Earl of Kent). Ian has looked after a younger child (Theodosia) since she arrived at Delphi Keep in rather mysterious circumstances as an infant, along with a crystal hung on a gold necklace. Ian treats Theo like a younger sister and they are best friends.

The story opens eight years after Theo's arrival as the duo explore forbidden tunnels in the cliffs outside the orphanage. They find an ornate silver box and take it with them, pursued by a massive hellhound. Ian is elated to have found something he might sell to support and educate Theo once they have to leave the orphanage. But soon after the box is hidden in Delphi Keep, the orphanage is besieged by the hellhound that chased and trailed Ian and Theo. This comes to the attention of the Earl and the new schoolmasters he's hired to teach the orphans - brothers Perry and Thatcher Goodwyn. The Earl also brings a new orphan to Delphi Keep - Carl, who becomes Ian's friend.

After Ian shows the Earl where he found the box, the Goodwyns translate mysterious writing in the cave. They discover that Theo is an oracle (she has visions of Hitler), and she's mentored by the Earl's aunt, Lady Arbuthnot, who has a considerable, but lesser, talent. The Goodwyns take Ian and Carl to visit Professor Nutley, who joins their prophesied quest. Attacked by a Druid sorceress when they re-enter the cave, they escape through a portal that takes them to Morocco. There, they have many adventures. After a capture and escape - they're joined by a local boy, Jaaved, and the episode ends on another, ferocious encounter with hellhounds that demands all their courage.

It seems that the evil Demogorgon (who feeds on human suffering) is using his offspring (including the hellhounds' master Magus the Black and his sister Caphiera the Cold) to foment conflict between nations. Ian and his friends have a big challenge ahead of them - to save the world - and it makes a remarkable, highly recommended story. Don't miss Oracles of Delphi Keep and look out for the next episode in what I expect to continue to be a thrilling series.

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